RURAL ARCHITECTURE IN THE TERRITORY OF VICO DEL GARGANO
The heritage of the rural in the countryside of Vico del Gargano reflects its extended territory from the coast of San Menaio and Pienta Marzini up to the dense beech woods of the Umbra Forest. The coastal portion and hillside reflect, in its architectural expression, a past founded on profitable tree crops of citrus, olives and vines. Landowners and careful farmers, facilitated by the presence of springs, have, over the centuries, shaped the hills and valleys sloping down to the sea in articulated terraced gardens dominated by the limestone as a construction element.
With this stone embankments were forged, border walls with stairs and arches, paved streets, sometimes of steps, for the passage of people and animals, water drainage channels. With that same stone were shaped many stone houses that adorn the landscape. Only in the territory of Vico del Gargano we have counted more than a thousand, a sign of the fields fragmentation related to the high profitability of the agricultural unit. With the same stone were also built mills located along the valleys, of which today only a few ruins remain, such as those along the Asciatizze valley.
Along the coast there are some examples of mansions like Villa Della Bella and Casini like C. Seppeseppe, C. Cardillo, Culolo (former Pizzonicchio), C. Monaco. Under the name of the villa they are identified resort homes of landowners. The rural architecture of the villa is in fact made by the upper class related to the profitable cultivation of citrus fruits and has a location in this area, mostly coastal. In general they were isolated building complexes that had the sole purpose of accommodating the owners and their families.
The casinos are rural buildings that have two floors and are especially common where there is a widespread woody culture. Most of these assets have an external staircase to the upper floors, rooms on the ground floor used as stables and warehouses, the upper space for kitchen and bed rooms. On the upper floors the sharecropper could live, but more often he would be staying on the lower floors. Top ones were certainly used to occasionally host the owner and his family who usually lived in urban centres. The social life of the rural agro of Vico del Gargano is also reflected in the presence of many rural churches.
Sufficiently well preserved are the Church of San Rocco, located in "Guasto", south of the city centre, well known to the faithful as it celebrates an annual festival in honour of the saint, on August 16; the Church of St. Michael, located on the road that leads from the city centre to San Menaio, the oldest building enough to be mentioned in a document of 1176, here it is celebrated the feast of the Saint on the 29th September; the church of St. Francis in San Menaio once laboratory for citrus packaging, and recently consecrated as a church; the church of Santa Maria Pura, located on the outskirts of the urban area on the Asciatizza canal, the church of Santa Maria Canneto, in the homonymous district, adjacent to the spring of the same name, in which there is a festival on August 15; Church of San Biagio also called "Sant'Vrase”, in Cerneglia, restored by the Budrago family few years ago, at which Mass is celebrated on August 29.
Of other churches only ruins remain as testimonies or buildings hard to reach. It is the case of Santa Maria Calenella under Monte Pucci, reduced to a few ruins, of the church of San Nicola, located near the spring of the same name (near S. Biagio) unfit for use since 1930, following a heavy snowfall that brought down the roof of the church, of Santa Maria delle Grazie, located in the plain of Calenella, and the church of Santa Maria delle Cortiglie, located on the edge of the Umbra Forest, a short distance from the Masseria Della Bella.